This week, HuffPo guest writer Cass Bliss detailed "what it's like to get your period when you're not a woman."
Bliss, a "nonbinary trans educator," first went viral with her #BleedingWhileTrans campaign in 2017 to prove the biologically impossible claim that "men have periods, too." The activist recently created a music video (see below) discussing the struggles of having your period while not identifying as a woman in a quest for "menstrual equity" for all. For example, the colors of tampon boxes are pink and there are no discrete garbage cans in men's bathroom stalls to dispose of tampons and pads.
"I am a nonbinary trans menstruator ― someone with a uterus that bleeds monthly, but who identifies outside of the fixed categories of male and female," explains Bliss. "Because of that, I have to navigate the challenges of getting my period every month in a world that refuses to acknowledge that not everyone who gets their period is a woman, and not every woman gets their period."
Bliss said she was generally comfortable with herself as a girl, just being a "tomboy," but that changed when she began getting her period. "I saw my stained underwear like a bloodied flag of surrender I was forced to fly as I left behind the freedom of childhood androgyny," she said.
Bliss said that getting her period each month stands as a painful reminder that she will always be seen as a woman by the public. "[W]hat does a nonbinary trans person do when our period comes rolling around once each month and instantly reminds us that no matter how hard we try much of the world will still see us as women just because we get our periods?" she asked. "The persistent gendered messages I regularly encounter hit me like thousands of metal slivers piercing through my skin: the feminine hygiene signs, the lack of disposal bins in men’s restrooms, the sanitized advertisements featuring thin white women preserving their femininity with dainty white pads and periwinkle 'blood.'"
The trans educator further recounts her struggles with gender dysphoria and the nasty side effects of pumping herself with testosterone. "When I was on testosterone from October 2017 through March 2018, I got my period almost every single month and one time I got it twice in four weeks. Not only did the testosterone not stop my periods, the hormone actually made my symptoms much worse."
Bliss wants to see the movement for "menstrual equity" to include women "not identifying as women," too, she concludes.
"For a movement which is based in the desire to be free of judgment, free of stigmatization and bodily control, it’s counterintuitive that we would not also consider the additional challenges that come with #BleedingWhileTrans," she said. "Though it may be easier to convince the public to accept a sanitized version of the fight for menstrual equity ― just as it’s easier for companies to advertise pads with the skinny white woman and her dainty pads ― at the end of the day, we cannot effectively rid the world of the period taboo unless we are doing so for all menstruators."